Five weeks old and a group of Coonhound mix puppies are picture perfect, but they didn't start out that way.
On Nov. 30 someone driving along Hwy. 65 north of Star Prairie, Wis. called the Home for Life Animal Sanctuary asking is staff knew a dog was tied to their gate near the road. Krissy McIntyre ran to the gate to investigate.
"You could tell obviously she was pregnant and she was so scared," McIntyre said. "I had to carry her back up here. You could see her hip bones, didn't look like she was in a good situation."
No one knows how long the dog was tied to the fence or where she came from, but it was clear she was severely malnourished and neglected. Temperatures that morning were -5 degrees, with a wind chill advisory dipping as low as -25.
Later that night after being given a new name, Rory started giving birth.
"We thought she was done with eight puppies, so I ran to take care of some of the other animals," Director Lisa LaVerdiere said. "And when I got back I thought I was seeing things. I kept counting because we have seven brown puppies now.. and three spotted."
A total of 10 coonhound mix puppies were born that night. All of the pups small, with a severely malnourished mother.
"We supplemented her calcium by giving her Tum, the antacid Tums," LaVerdiere said. "That happens to have lot of calcium citrate in it, feeding her 4-5 times a day just to build her up."
Since they were able to rescue and take good care of Rory, she was able to take great care of her puppies.
"I don't think the puppies would have survived," LaVerdiere said. "Let alone her. I think it would have been a real tragedy."
Since then, LaVerdiere and her staff have nursed the pups to good health, just like the other 200 animals this nonprofit cares for. Committed to providing lifelong homes for animals, this charity group takes in animals that will never be adopted because of old age, disabilities or medical conditions.
This is not the first time an abused animal has shown up on their rural Wisconsin property.
"We've had rabbits to cats, to dogs, thrown over our fences and our gates," LaVerdiere said.
The puppies will be ready for adoption two weeks from now, starting Jan. 23.
"We just want them to have a great home… and not go through what she did. Homes that will love them and treat them well."
Image slideshow of the adorable puppies can be seen here.